BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Leaders of several organizations and nonprofits in Louisiana will come together in Baton Rouge Saturday, Aug. 26 for a community youth justice town hall.
The town hall titled “How are the Children?” will be at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center, located at 950 Lorri Burgess Ave. The event will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Youth advocates said children are doing much better than most people think but they are concerned about the racial disparities in the youth criminal justice system.
“In Baton Rouge, we have a population that is roughly half and half Black and white. One might expect maybe disparate impact on the population maybe you would have 75 percent who are Black. It generally hovers around 95 percent,” said Jack Harrison, director of the Juvenile Defense Clinic at LSU Law Center. “The racial disparity in our area is profound.”
Harrison blames law enforcement for the racial disparity.
“It is totally law enforcement who makes unnecessary arrests. It isn’t the judges. It’s not the juvenile district attorney, not the judges in juvenile court, because when all of the children that come in front of them are all Black, they’re not making the decisions, the screening is done by law enforcement,” said Harrison.